The magic of Magaliesburg is that it feels like the middle of nowhere – in the best way possible – yet it is just outside the city limits of Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Magaliesberg mountains set the scene, with the area’s beauty, rich history and plethora of luxury lodges making it a popular spot for weekends away and gourmet road tripping. (And, like another of South Africa’s popular destinations, the Midlands, it even has its own meander.) Here are the top five restaurants in Magaliesburg and Cradle of Humankind that were featured in the 2015 Eat Out magazine.
Bridge Bistro at De Hoek Country Hotel
At this relaxed but upmarket addition to the hotel the focus is on top ingredients and making all stocks and sauces from scratch – and it shows. For dinner, opt for risotto, Moroccan-style couscous or pan-fried channel bass fillet with sautéed beans and truffle mash. Almost completely glass-enclosed, the space has a sense of contemporary calm, allowing guests to enjoy the views of the Magaliesberg mountains.
The Conservatory at De Hoek Country Hotel
Award-winning executive chef Michael Holenstein is serious about food at the alternative option within the same hotel. Dishes could be classified as classic European with nods to modern Asia. Start with creamy veal risotto and move on to roast free-range duck breast with five-spice rub and spicy plum sauce, or grilled rib-eye with café de Paris butter and merlot sauce. Vegetarian diners should consider the heavenly red-onion tart. There’s the added delight of indulging in chocolate truffles with your coffee or tea. French doors lead onto gardens and a pretty pool. Watch the guinea fowl parade up and down the steps.
Le Sel @ The Cradle
This location is a haven of simplicity, with breathtaking views of the 3000-hectare game reserve. The unassuming food of Coco Reinharz, the award-winning chef from French-Burundian background, shows sophistication in both approach and execution. Hop onto a seat at the bar for a pre-lunch snack with chilled beer from a nearby microbrewery, or book a table for treats like tender lamb chops with tomato salsa (an Ivory Coast-inspired dish) and finger-licking chicken wings with deep-fried plantain. The dishes are simply plated but speak of excellent quality. If you prefer the great outdoors, order a picnic basket, blanket and ice bucket and look for a shady tree.
The Rambling Vine at African Pride Mount Grace Country House and Spa
Get out of Joburg for the weekend to this hilltop destination with its acres of lush gardens, spa and wondrous views. Chef Stefano Strafella presents exciting dishes like Scottish salmon with sesame-braised bok choy and Asian dressing; deeply tasty oxtail pie with cranberry jus; and mustard-paprika-braised pork belly with warm apple salsa, saffron potato and cumin-scented jus. Enjoy a Mitchell’s beer or cocktail under the trees before your meal.
Roots at Forum Homini
Situated on a private game estate in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind, Roots is a destination restaurant of note. The hotel itself is an architectural masterpiece, boasting sweeping views of the landscape, and chef Adriaan Maree specialises in precise, artful food. Gourmet dishes are served with wine ‘teasers’ to complement each dish, and every plate delivers a delicate artwork, from smooth celeriac accompanying the chopped beef tartare to the delicate masala sauce that beautifully matches red roman with crispy skin. Dessert includes treats like smoked honey ice cream. Contact them to hear more about their monthly wine tasting evenings.